In just a very short time you’ll be 100 percent confident you can immediately build more muscle, increase strength and lose fat. That’s a strong statement considering the utter frustration most bodybuilders go through just to make a little bit of progress, isn’t it?
If you’re one of those frustrated bodybuilders, hold on before you get out the rope to lynch me. How can an arrogant SOB make such a statement, you ask? Because thousands of once frustrated bodybuilders have experienced new muscle growth, increased their strength and substantially reduced their bodyfat by adding properly formulated meal-replacement powders (MRPs) to their training regimen.The key words there are properly formulated. The best MRPs have done more for bodybuilders than any supplement or training-and-nutrition strategy, and users also report increased energy and a better sense of well-being. Notice I didn’t say that they’ve done more than any other supplement. That’s because meal replacements aren’t supplements; they’re a vital component in a successful bodybuilding plan.
Now, I don’t know if making real progress for all your efforts is important to you, but those who’ve used properly formulated meal-replacement powders successfully couldn’t imagine going without them. In addition to being convenient, tasty and cost-effective, great MRPs take 100 percent of the guesswork out of bodybuilding nutrition. They’ve got all the vitamins, minerals and electrolytes your body needs to thrive and grow.
I use MRPs three times a day, and I consider them a real taste treat. More important, since I’ve recently revisited my use of MRPs, I’m currently training at my lowest bodyfat in three years and have managed to increase my muscle mass consistently. I’ve knocked 4 1/2 inches off my waist (just four more to go and I’ll be photo-ready) and added 1 1/2 inches to my chest measurement, half an inch to my arms and half an inch to my legs’all in the last four months. That’s not too bad for a 46-year-old, is it?
As a result, my confidence is way up, and almost daily someone comes up to me in the gym or in my neighborhood and mentions how much better I’m looking. Oh, and I’m getting plenty of attention from the opposite sex’another benefit of MRPs. But enough about me. Let’s take a closer look at MRPs and how they can help you achieve your bodybuilding goals.
Anabolic and Anticatabolic Nutrients
Muscles grow by a cyclical process of synthesizing protein, or anabolism, and breaking down protein, or catabolism. Muscle growth occurs when the balance between the amount made and the amount broken down is optimal. If you want to build bigger, stronger muscles, you have to make a significant alteration in your body’s existing protein cycle. That means you have to speed up the rate of synthesis and/or slow down the rate of breakdown, a.k.a. anticatabolism.
That’s the key to growth. When you understand that, you’ll know more than most MRP manufacturers, who are selling gobs of improperly formulated products.
Research says that combining the long-term, anticatabolic effect of casein protein, preferably the superior micellar form, with the short-term anabolic effect of whey protein triggers both mechanisms, leading to serious muscle growth and power. Whey protein is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream, causing a dynamic anabolic action, but it only lasts a few hours. After that it’s all used up’completely gone. On the other hand, micellar casein is very anticatabolic, slamming the door on catabolism.
A properly formulated MRP will include a combination of the highest-quality micellar casein and whey protein concentrate. That way you get a complete milk protein for the greatest muscle-building effects. You’ll maintain an anabolic environment while you stop catabolism dead in its tracks. That may be the single most important factor in terms of the effectiveness of MRPs, and its importance cannot be overemphasized.
Look at the label and make sure the MRP you’re considering contains both whey protein and some form of casein. Casein could be listed as casein, caseinate, calcium caseinate or micellar casein. Micellar casein is the preferred form, since its manufacturing process uses the least heat and, therefore, leaves all the fragile protein fractions undamaged.
MRPs that contain casein are also high in lactoferrin, an amazing protein fraction that studies say can cut the time required for tissue repair in half. Micellar casein has the highest concentration of that growth-and-repair factor, another reason you should try to use an MRP that includes it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how lactoferrin could be important to someone wanting to build quality muscle.
ALLYou’ll also find that many quality MRPs contain egg white protein, which rounds out the amino acid profile.
Some MRP manufacturers don’t understand the concept of anti-catabolism’or they just ignore it. They ignore the research that proves the link between casein and anticatabolism. They ignore the research that demonstrates that anticatabolism is just as important to muscle growth and repair as anabolism. Their advertisements and labels scream the claim that their product only contains whey protein. They harp on how superior whey protein is to casein. Now you know the truth.
When you read the labels, you’ll find that a properly formulated MRP also includes essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are found in sunflower, flaxseed and borage oils, and research has shown that they have anticatabolic properties, enhance testosterone production and are critical in stimulating the use of stored bodyfat as an energy source.
Essential fatty acids can also improve your metabolism and insulin action; increase growth hormone secretion; improve blood pressure, cholesterol profile and nerve function; enhance immunity; improve the energy production of cells and increase nitrogen retention. They give meal-replacement powders a richer, more delicious flavor and a nice mouth feel, and they help keep your appetite satiated longer.
As with the casein factors, some MRP manufacturers don’t understand the benefits of EFAs. Their advertisements and their labels tout their lowfat and no-fat formulas.
Now you know the distinction between fact and smoke screens.
I could base an entire article on the benefits of glutamine, the most prevalent amino acid in blood and muscle tissue. Glutamine is critical to all life-sustaining processes in the human body, and that includes building and preserving muscle as well as the proper functioning of every organ. It’s the chief source of fuel for the entire immune system and the millions of cells that line the intestinal tract. Be sure that the product you’re using contains plenty of glutamine, preferably glutamine peptides, which are 10 times more absorbable than standard L-glutamine.
MRPs are a wonderful no-brainer tool for regulating the balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It’s an individual matter, but I prefer formulas that are a little lower in carbohydrates. The sources of carbs in those products range from dextrose to sophisticated starches. I like the carbs to be low-glycemic-index carbs, which helps regulate insulin levels. Again, read the labels, test the products and decide for yourself.
Enhanced Nutritional Profile
Some MRPs contain extra vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes and whatever array of nutrients the manufacturer decided to include. Calcium and magnesium to improve regularity of the delicate digestive tract are two examples. A number of university studies have also shown that magnesium has a positive effect on strength and muscle growth. If your MRP doesn’t include it, you may want to consider a calcium-and-magnesium supplement to boost your gains.
Dextrose, sugar and aspartame are common ingredients. I personally prefer products sweetened with sucralose, the only noncaloric sweetener made from sugar that’s been shown to be completely safe in many studies over the past 10 years. Remember, it has no calories and no effect on insulin levels.
Putting It All Together
Those are the facts. Read the labels, and be a smart shopper. Train hard, train smart, and eat three whole-food meals and drink three meal replacements a day. Even if you don’t see any dramatic changes or feel much difference right away, stay with it. Within four weeks you’ll start to notice that your belt needs to be tightened and your chest, arms and legs are growing. You’ll be getting stronger and looking better. Within eight weeks others will start commenting. By the time you get to weeks 12 through 16, you should be much bigger, stronger and more defined. IM